An online petition with over 180,000 signatures will be presented to the Mercer County School Board Thursday night requesting repercussions for school staff accused of placing an Autistic student in a therapeutic bag for misbehaving.
Last year Sandra Baker came to pick up her son at Mercer County Intermediate School. She claims she found him in a sensory bag meant to relieve pressure, which is common treatment for some autistic children, but that an uncertified staff member was using it as a response to misbehaving.
The petition was created on website Change.org by an 18 year-old Boston native with Autism. The petition says the situation is abuse and calls on the termination or training of that employee and all employees educating special needs students going forward.
There are still missing pieces to the story, but a certified teacher can pass over responsibility if the situation is deemed appropriate, said Larry Taylor, executive director of the Kentucky Autism Training Center.
“They have to make the determination what roll release they would take part in for others to provide the specific therapy,” he said.
But parents should be involved with what therapies are used for their child and Baker shouldn’t have been surprised that her son was in the bag if communication between her and the school was better, Taylor said.
“If it’s something being used that the parent is not aware of then there’s a communication issue and I think the parent needed to be a part of that decision making process,” he said.
Each child with Autism is unique and requires different therapies, he said. Special needs teachers require certification, but local districts are responsible for managing staff’s professional development, said Taylor.